A Bog Garden Project

A few years ago a client sold me an old, rusty tub. It's been sitting around waiting for me to have time to work on it for a while, and I decided to do that this week.

Noel helped me roll it over on its back to get access to the parts that needed help. The interior is in remarkably good condition, especially because my intention is to turn this tub into a bog garden rather than use it as a tub.

The tub before

My efforts are going to be all about getting that old, cracked paint off, sealing the rust to stop it, and getting everything repainted to protect it from weather and, well, being a bog garden.

The history of this tub is that somebody sandblasted the original enamel off it, then tried to leave it bare metal. That doesn't work well unless you protect the metal, which they did not, so it rusted. Then they painted half the tub with latex paint over the untreated rust. That was... unsuccessful.

Several years later, I bought it and hauled it off.

First coat of Aircraft Remover

My first step is to strip off the latex. For this I used Aircraft Remover, which does not in fact remove aircraft, but is a heavy duty stripper for painted metals.

Stripper removing paint fairly easily

The paint stripper did a decent job stripping most of the paint. The big issue was that because the paint was painted on over rust, it's not super easy to just scrape it off: the paint is wedged down into the texture of the rust. So there was a lot of scraping. Prep your surfaces properly, kids.

First round of scraping

This was after the first round of stripper, when it was clear I needed to apply more to the vertical side.

Second round of scraping

That worked pretty well but there's still a big patch there where the paint was hard to remove.

End of the first day

This is a shot from another angle showing you the completely unpainted side of the tub. I have no idea why they didn't paint that side of the tub but thank goodness for the sloppy job or it would be a lot more work.

Gunked up feet

The big issue I had was heavy layers of paint over the feet of the tub. I'm going to need to remove the feet and just soak them in paint stripper, I think.

Mostly finished stripping

By the end of the second day I was mostly finished with the bulk removal of the paint. I have a wire brush that I'll use to clean the rest of the paint off the tub -- because it's latex rather than oil based enamel, I can just do this in the yard and not worry about making a toxic waste dump. Well, more of one.

The day after I got this far it started raining and it's been raining for several days, so we have a slight delay on getting this done. That's fortunate, because the replacement tub fixtures had time to arrive. When I originally bought the tub it came with a full set of fixtures, including a shower. I had the whole thing in the back of the truck and lent the truck out to a community group for a dump run, and they very helpfully threw out a couple hundred dollars worth of fixtures and my broom. Thanks, guys. Anyway, I bought new fixtures last week and because of the shutdown they have taken a while to arrive. So a few days of rain delay isn't a huge deal.

posted by ayse on 04/06/20

2 Comments

My guess on the paint - based on the tub we have in our house - the latex paint was an in-place fix. The unpainted side was against a wall.

Yes, that's what the previous owner said. Also he said, "And we were being lazy" because the side that was up against the wall was 14" from the wall

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